Peaceful Garden Spaces


I’m thankful for a husband who loves gardening and landscape designing in his free time. His idea of rest is yard work, mowing, weeding, planting, watering, arranging plants. My idea of rest is sitting in these beautiful spaces and enjoying the fruit of his labor. My absolute favorite space is the courtyard in the front of our house. The trickling fountain echoing off the walls. The comfy cushions on the low bench. The beautiful plants. Jason built all of it and all of us love to sit out here. Even the frogs and skinks love it, at least I assume, since we have several living out here. Sometimes after I put Zay down for his morning nap, Ali and I sit out here to read books. And when both kids are napping, I love to sit here for some solitude.



The courtyard is my favorite but the backyard is getting better every season. We had a huge leap year of bamboo, which is enveloping this space in a thick green screen (and giving us more privacy from our neighbors from inside the house, too, since we have big windows). We love to eat lunch and dinner on the back patio, under the pergola. We also love toasting marshmallows and making s’mores around the fire pit. Jason recently planted a bunch of herbs for me and I’m looking forward to using them for cooking. My dad also blessed us with a potted tomato plant. We have several fruit trees and bushes (pear, cherry, blueberry and raspberry) on the other side of the fence and eventually I’d like to have a couple of vegetable garden beds. Maybe next year. (That’s what I said last year when I was pregnant with Zay.)

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Prickly Plants


Normally this time of year, I’d be snapping pictures of our garden and the plants around the house. The pink dogwood behind our house… I missed it this spring. However, our new yard has a gigantic beautiful white dogwood out front. I wonder if our prickly pear cactuses exploded with yellow flowers this spring. I’m sure the azaleas were blindingly vibrant. And the gorgeous Japanese Flowering Plum—I missed that one, too. Is the new home owner keeping up with the weeding?

Jason did bring quite a few plants over to our temporary home at my parents’ in pots. Recently the spineless prickly pear has been having it’s spring grow spurt. I love this thing. It’s so fun! It grows these soft, thick “spines” that dry up and fall off, leaving a polka-dotted paddle. The spineless prickly pear in front of our old house was (and still is) getting huge. We hope to grow these salvaged babies big in front of our new house, too.

We recently bought a huuuuuuge round pot for this agave at Old Time Pottery. It’s happy.

Front Garden Expansion: Phase 4


Look! A blog post that isn’t about the kid! 🙂 I’ll get back to writing about her tomorrow, probably. I didn’t want to leave this series unfinished.

We got our gravel delivered and spread in the front garden. It’s close to being finished. Jason asked the delivery guys not to spread it all the way to the edges because he wants to had a landscaping border first, to keep the gravel from spilling into the grass. Weed eaters and pebbles are a bad combination… our front window can testify. I don’t have a whole lot to say about this since I identified the plants in the Phase 3 post. So, on with the pictures…

The Garden: July 2011


I take no credit for the piece of paradise located in my backyard. This oasis is all thanks to my husband’s love of plants, especially dessert and tropical plants.

We have yellow bamboo (left of the gate) and black bamboo (right of the gate, not pictured below) in neatly contained planter on our patio. We cut these blocks out of our concrete patio. (Anywhere I saw “we” just assume I mean Jason.)

The black bamboo was very determined… it’s roots spread under the patio and it shot up a bunch of runners into our cactus garden this summer. We’ve left most of them to grow because the idea of a bamboo grove sounds nice. Plus black bamboo is super expensive (the most we’ve ever paid for a plant!) and it spreads pretty slowly. It’s really neat to see how fast a new stalk grows. I’ll do a post just on that some day.

Most mornings while Jason and I are having bacon, eggs and toast at the kitchen table there is a couple of yellow finches having breakfast on our echinacea (cone flower) plant. I guess the seeds are tasty.

There is also a hummingbird that frequents the echinacea and the red yucca (tall finger-like pinkish plant in the center of the photo.)

Our patio needs repainted. Or stained. Or tiled. Or something.

This is a banana tree. It’s just ornamental, it doesn’t get fruit on it. But it’s huge and fast growing and definitely the focal point of the garden right now.

We love this pretty crepe myrtle tree.

There’s a sister banana tree in the corner of the garden.

Our key lime tree, which seems to be fruitless right now.

So there’s a quick tour around our garden paradise this July. It’s been hot and humid and the plants are lovin’ it!

Lawn Flamingo


I like nostalgia and a good joke so I’m not beyond putting a plastic pink flamingo in my yard. However, when I saw this painted metal art sculpture breed at a local garden store, I may have taken a picture and sent it to Jason with the caption, “For my birthday?” He got me Tina Fey’s book, Bossypants, which I savored (yes, savored… I actually tried to pace myself so I could enjoy it for longer.) But, being the sweet husband and son-in-law that he is, Jason went with my mom to the garden store to help her pick out a flamingo for me. I was quite bewildered by the big, odd-shaped gift wrapped in a sheet. Ah, a flamingo garden sculpture!

I haven’t decided on a fitting name for him/her yet but we found a good spot in our back garden and buried his feet so he stays put. So far so good. The cardinals and hummingbirds that frequent our garden don’t seem to mind him a bit.

Being Fruitful


We haven’t planned many vegetables this year. Arugula. Romaine lettuce. Tomatoes. And tomatoes can technically be considered a fruit. But we have 3 strawberry plants, a black raspberry bush and a peach tree already established. This year we added 2 cherry trees and a pear (Black Tartarian Sweet Cherry and Stella Sweet Cherry to cross pollinate, and Keiffer Pear which is self-pollinating.) The new trees are pretty much just a twig with some leaves … we definitely won’t be getting any fruit from them this year.

(Unfinished side of the fence…) From left to right the arrows point to: cherry, peach, pear, cherry.

From the other end of the yard:

Our peach tree. Last year we had pests. The year before mold. We think we’ve solved both problems and we have really high hopes this year!

Man Gifts: Greenhouse & Smoker


I’m having [another] crazy busy week between work & freelance. Blah, blah, blah, everyone is busy… I know! I’m sorry for the lame excuse for light blogging. Here are a couple of quick photos of some new things around the ol’ mid-century modern ranch.

My parents and I bought Jason a greenhouse a couple weeks ago. He was quite surprised to see it out on the back patio when we woke up on his birthday. It’s out in the yard now ready to over-winter some of Jason’s tender tropicals.

This was like a birthday present from God for Jason. He’s been wanting a smoker for years but they’re pretty expensive ($150-250 for a big one like this) and no one ever seems to sell used ones on craigslist. We were riding our bikes home from a coffee shop run a few days after J’s bday and guess what our neighbors were selling at their yard sale? For $20! It needs cleaned up/fixed up but Jason can’t wait to use it… rack of ribs, smoked salmon, jerky …

An Unsightly Addition to Our Yard


… but functional for sure. Vegetable planting time of year is a good reminder to get back on track with our backyard composting. We had been using a plastic trash can with holes drilled in it but this year we purchased this beautiful specimen. It works much better than the trash can because it has doors at the bottom so you can get the fresh rich soil out of the bottom without stirring everything up.

Backyard composting is simple. If you’re interested, download the basic instructions here.

Not Too Trashy, Right?


Jason and I spent the afternoon Saturday making cold frames (mini greenhouses) for some of our tender plants—agave, hen & chicks, pineapples, cherry tomatoes, palm tree. They’re actually very simple to make using old wood-frame windows screwed together with 3″ screws. Just be careful not to break the glass with the screws. (We only did that once.)



We’re using storm windows to cover the tops of the frames and black trash bags under the greenhouses to attract more sunlight.


These should work well for starting seedlings in the spring too.


I thought this snail was cute. Jason thought it was gross. Then we cracked the glass in this window.


A Chinese windmill palm (I think…) is frost hearty after it’s been established for a couple of years. This is it’s first winter so we’re being extra cautious with a cold frame.


The moral of the story is: one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. These windows were recycled. My parents had new windows put in their house last year and Jason snagged all the old ones before they got tossed. So… these look not too trashy, right?


Lucy, our Mid-Century-Modern Life mascot, kept an eye on things from the lounge chair. She’ll be 5 next month. She’s really starting to act like an old dog, which we find to be very entertaining.


Even though it was cold outside (I’m allowed to call 60º cold, right?) Jason and I enjoyed a lemon berry fruit slush from Sonic. Happy Hour baby! This giganto drink was only $1.03!!